Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2007 Edna Valley Vineyards Chardonnay Paragon

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

It can get hot in the valley. Real hot. July 2007 found us in Paso Robles and it was a scorcher. A few winemakers there quietly shook there heads over the heat spikes, muttering under their breath about a lost vintage.

But California is a varied place. And a short distance can mean the difference between heat rash and smiling faces.

Situated about five miles south of San Luis Obispo, the Paragon Vineyard is not closed-in by a mountain range. Instead, it's breezes have a clear shot coming in from the Pacific thanks to the Los Osos Valley. So even though the vineyard is a nine iron from a hot valley floor, it has a terrific microclimate advantage over other nearby areas.

Given that, it's no surprise that Edna Valley Vineyards, which has exclusive access through a partnership to the Paragon Vineyard, has the capicity to turn out respectable wine. But what is surprising is the consistency and value of the wines being produced here.

We originally sampled the 2007 Paragon Chardonnay shortly after release and were impressed enough to think it was a $20 bottle. Possessing all the attributes of a quality California Chardonnay - medium body, balance, nuanced spice, and a warm, lingering taste - this wine represents the potential for this lesser known AVA. The wine has an intensity of flavor that's easy to find yourself infatuated with. And it doesn't get bogged down by cloying residual sugars or overstated oak. Very well done.

Planted in the early 70's by Jack and Catherine Niven, the 1100 acre Paragon Vineyard is predominately Chardonnay, but also has some Pinot, Syrah, and other assorted varietals. Run as a joint venture between Paragon Vineyard and Diageo, Edna Valley Vineyard was originally established as a partnership between the Niven Family and Chalone back in 1980.

When we saw the 07 Paragon Chard on sale at a local retailer for $9.99 we decided to revisit it and found ourselves liking it even more. How could you not? A few weeks later the price took another dive to - get this - $6.99.

Despite our beliefs, we were sure this was a clerical error and picked up a case without hesitation. And to be fair, this is a wine worth stocking up even if it isn't on that kind of a sale. We've seen it as high as $15.50, but more often than not at around $11.99.

Rating: Terrific, zero risk, crowd pleaser. Unbelievable value.

In response to this review, Director of Winemaking Harry Hansen sent us this note:

Your facts are essentially correct except to say that Edna Valley Vineyard is still a joint venture between Paragon Vineyard and Diageo, which bought Chalone Wine Group's share in 2005.

Regards,

Harry Hansen
Duly noted, Harry.